Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Old "Israel Looted Palestinian Books" Canard Rears Its Ugly Head Again

I see that no less a personage than Dr Nabil Al-Arabi, secretary-general of the Arab League, has claimed at an Arab League function in Cairo attended by representatives of the International Council on Archives as well as by the Palestinian and Egyptian ministers of culture and an array of Arab intellectuals and officials, that "Israel has stolen 80,000 Palestinian books and manuscripts and kept them in its national libraries since 1948".

It's reported that
"Al-Arabi called for efforts to be made to regain archives stolen by imperialist powers with the aim of hiding the Arabic identity and forging its history, mainly the Palestinian history. He stressed the importance of maintaining the Palestinian identity and its manuscripts
He added that some Arab countries, including Algeria, Libya and Iraq are working to regain their archives, which also contains its histories. The Arab League is working on this in cooperation with the ICA.
 Abu Amr [Palestinian Minister of Culture Mr Ziad Abu Amr]said: "The occupation's measures, which have been taking place since the Nakba in 1948 to damage Palestinian culture, information centres, universities and archives of Palestinian institutions, are part of the efforts to hide the Arabic identity of Palestine."...'
As I noted in a couple of years ago, the canard that Israel deliberately misappropriated books belonging to the Palestinian Arabs has been a weapon in the Israel-haters' cachement for some considerable time.

It has gone the rounds of the Israel-demonising propaganda network, appearing, for instance,  here / and here and here

But as that 2012 post of mine declares, in 1948, in an article entitled "Arabs in Israel," Norman Bentwich, Professor of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, noted in regards to the work of the Ministry of Minorities, set up to safeguard the welfare of Arabs (and other non-Jews) in the newly-proclaimed Jewish State:
 'Perhaps the most striking work in the Ministry is its effort to develop cultural life, in the midst of the uneasy truce, for the Arab population. It has already established some fifty primary schools in the towns and villages, with free education. A former Jewish Inspector of the Mandatory Education Department is in charge of the schools; another, an Oriental Jew, with a thorough knowledge of Arabic, assists him. The Ministry has also established one or two Arab clubs for reading and recreation, and has promoted a daily Arabic newspaper, El Yom (The Day). This is the first Arabic daily to appear in Israel. Several of the staff are Arabs, who have full freedom of expression; and some educated Arabs write to the Palestine Post, the English[-language] daily, voicing grievances about rent and employment, and the like.
 A remarkable cultural enterprise is the establishment in Jaffa of an Arab library, which includes close on 100,000 books and periodicals salvaged from private houses that were deserted and broken into during the fighting. It includes, too, some Arab manuscripts from the ninth and tenth centuries, which may have value for scholars. The books and manuscripts are being catalogued by a Jewish scholar of Baghdad. The library is housed in a private mansion of one of the richer Arabs of Jaffa, and there is a project of making it a cultural centre. The whole cost to the Government so far has been only a few hundred pounds.
In Jerusalem 30,000 books were similarly salvaged and handed over for safe-keeping to the [Hebrew] University of Jerusalem. It is likely that the owners of the books will come to identify their property and collect it back; but the action of the Ministry will have prevented looting and destruction, and it has received the appreciation of the Arab population.'
Does that look like deliberate plunder to you?  No, not to me, either.
Read more of the Bentwich article here

Since this looted books story is already being used as anti-Israel propaganda by the usual suspects, it's as well to be reminded that in Hebron in 1929 Jewish manuscripts, including notable ancient documents, were looted from Jewish homes and synagogues. It's possible that some of this loot surfaced among  Jewish manuscripts shown by Arab dealers to the Rockefeller Museum.  Furthermore Jewish homes and synagogues/yeshivot were looted in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1929 and 1936-38; during the latter period, there was a pogrom in the south Jerusalem neighbourhood of Talpiyot, and at least one important Hebrew writer residing there had his books vandalised and looted. (Hat tip: E.)

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